Stage Presence versus Stage Craft
Which is the most important, stage craft or stage presence?
Stage presence can be defined as the allure or magnetism of a performer. The artist grasps your attention from the outset, and holds it throughout their performance. It’s said that someone with great stage presence can hold an audience in the palm of their hand.
The Beatles are often quoted as a good example of a band with stage presence. They were pretty much rooted to the same spot during their entire performance, and relied on their aura (and great songs) to bond with the audience.
Stage craft can be defined as the manner, movement, posture or demeanour of a performer. Artists with good stage craft tend to be more theatrical in their performance and dress, sometimes using stage props to assist them.
Till Lindemann, singer in the band Rammstein, is credited with having great stage craft. He overcomes the language barrier (Till sings almost entirely in German) with his outlandish attire and trademark movements around the stage. Rammstein also use pyrotechnics as a kind of grand scale stage prop, which adds to their collective stage craft.
Till Lindemann and Rammstein demonstrating collective stage craft
Of course some artists are lucky enough to have stage presence and stage craft. Elvis Presley, Beyoncé and Freddie Mercury to name a few.
So, in an era where it’s more important than ever to grab your audience’s attention from the get go, which is more important?
London based video Director Jay Green told me “Attention span has diminished, and that’s reflected in faster and choppier editing. It’s no longer good enough to just have a performance shot, there has to be something that grabs the audience.” That seems like a vote for stage craft.
Jay went on to say “The whole process of creating a video hinges on the Director building trust with the artist. Once that’s established, they’ll buy into your vision and start performing for the camera. Sure, it’s a collaborative process, but for the artist to perform they have to trust the Director.”
Jay should know, since lockdown he’s been busier than ever producing videos. As he says “people are desperate for something to watch.” Right indeed Jay. So, there appears to be a strong case for stage craft if you are using the medium of video to capture and hold your audience’s attention.
Stage presence often depends on the mystery or mystique surrounding the artist, or their ability to draw you in and create an intimate environment. Bruce Springsteen uses personal stories and eminently relatable lyrics to create an intimate feel to his shows, even when he’s playing to stadium size audiences.
So which is more important then, stage presence or stage craft? Maybe, it’s not about choosing one over the other, but trusting people like Jay Green to guide you, and see how your musical persona develops.
Either way, enjoy the show!